In a few days, Congress is expected to vote on historic climate and clean energy investments ($369 billion to be exact). The Inflationary Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 represents a major step forward in moving the United States and the world toward our climate goals. In total, the passage could mean a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 — an unprecedented development that could make or break our progress toward climate goals.
Companies have a great opportunity to be on the right side of climate history by speaking up loud and clear for this bill. Corporate voice is essential to securing this victory for climate safety—and whether employees understand whether their company is vocal or silent. We got to this point partly because we had clear vocal support from some people in the corporate sector. Now is the time for all climate-positive companies to speak up and help this bill across the finish line.
What if we fail? The consequences of inaction are higher than ever, as the goal of keeping temperatures below 1.5°C slowly slips out of reach. And while the private sector is making impressive progress on many fronts while addressing major challenges, it’s also clear that bold public policy is the necessary acceleration to drive the rapid economy-wide decarbonisation we need. The Inflation Reduction Act isn’t perfect—but it would significantly accelerate growth in the U.S. economy, accelerate private sector emissions reduction efforts, and expand the economy. The private sector should find it cheaper, easier and faster to meet its own emissions targets with IRA policies.
We have the knowledge and solutions to solve this problem. To maximize change, we need federal policy that can move the ball across all sectors of the economy, and quickly. (The climate game is about speed and balance.) And when this legislation faces the inevitable outcry of opposition, in this highly divided and polarized government, the voice of business can cut through the noise and be heard clearly on both sides. Passage way. As we enter tough economic times, policymakers will be more interested in listening to entrepreneurs.
Business needs to step up its game on climate policy during these shutdown times. In the year-long fight to pass climate provisions as part of the Go Back Better Act, even “climate-friendly” companies have only given cautious support to their trade associations, including the fossil fuel industry-led Chamber of Commerce. Running above the law. Overall, it wasn’t an encouraging display of corporate leadership, but we saw promising glimpses of what real corporate involvement in this war might look like in the future.
Companies have a great opportunity to be on the right side of climate history by speaking up loud and clear for this bill.
Let’s take Salesforce for example. As DC’s climate fight approaches its final months, the company has strengthened its leadership and visibility in several ways. CEO Marc Benioff participated in a White House pep rally for federal climate legislation in January. In February, Salesforce signed a New York Times announcement organized by Project Drawdown. In June, Salesforce Vice President Susan DiBianca took to CNN to strongly support federal investments in clean energy. And just two days after the 2022 Inflationary Reduction Act was introduced, Salesforce became the first major tech company to endorse it in an article in The Protocol.
In addition to throwing their full support behind this particular piece of legislation now, we want companies to do three things to help us continue bold climate policy and halve emissions by 2030.
- Lobby for clean energy, pro-climate legislation where you work. States and localities are weighing large-scale pro-climate policies such as electrification and mass transit investments. The battle for massive federal control over climate will continue. Companies should be in front of both.
- Leave the anti-climate trade unions. The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers both viciously attacked the Build Back Better Act. (And both announced their opposition to the deflation bill less than 24 hours after it was passed.) It’s time for the companies who claim to care about the climate crisis to walk away from these dysfunctional exits. Trade union relations. Earlier this year, there were reports that the Business Roundtable was coming under pressure from tech firms to become more pro-climate change. If they’re not, it’s time to leave that group.
- Keep the drumbeat of public statements on climate policy. It took years of activists calling for gay marriage to become law, and it finally happened in part because companies made themselves heard. It will take years to address climate change modestly, and companies need to keep up the pressure on public policy to address this existential crisis, using their bully rhetoric—CEO blogs and op-eds, press releases, social media, speeches, and television interviews. The crisis that affects their customers and employees.
In the meantime, let’s all make climate history together. To quote the ever-wise Bill McKibbean, “The zeitgeist matters.